Background In the past years, symptoms of common mental disorders have been exponentially under study among professional i.e. elite athletes. Two recent cross-sectional studies among Australian and French elite Olympic athletes have showed a prevalence of symptoms of common mental disorders in the range of 17 to 45%.
Objective To determine the prevalence and comorbidity of symptoms of common mental disorders (distress, anxiety/depression, sleep disturbance, eating disorders, adverse alcohol use) among Dutch elite athletes, and to explore the inference between potential risk indicators (severe injury, surgery, life events, sport career dissatisfaction, social support) and the outcomes measures under study.
Design Cross-sectional analyses were conducted on baseline questionnaires from an ongoing prospective cohort study.
Setting Dutch Olympic athletes from the Netherlands Olympic Committee*Netherlands Sports Confederation (NOC*NSF).
Patients (or Participants) A total of 203 elite athletes were enrolled (mean age at recruitment was 27 years; mean sports career duration was 8 years).
Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) The assessment of risk indicators was based on validated scales.
Main Outcome Measurements Symptoms of common mental disorders were assessed with validated scales.
Results Prevalence (4-week) of symptoms of common mental disorders (not clinically diagnosed) ranged from 6% for adverse alcohol use to 45% for anxiety/depression. A higher number of past severe injuries, higher number of past surgeries, higher number of recent life events, higher level of career dissatisfaction and lower level of social support were related to the occurrence of symptoms of common mental disorders among elite athletes.
Conclusions On average, the 4-week prevalence of CMD as shown in our study among Dutch elite athletes were similar to the ones found among athletes from other sports disciplines and does compare with the lifetime prevalence estimates in the general population of the Netherlands.